Honey, Sugar, Darlin’

I don’t often delve into personal issues here, at least not without a heavy layer of abstraction applied first, but I’m going to make an exception today, just this once, for a single topic:  Body Sugaring or the fine art of hair removal at home.

If “sugaring” makes you think of sexy times, you’ve got the wrong idea.  Sugaring is the Egyptian bodily hair removal process / technique.  You cook this stuff up at home, let it cool, then use it to rip your body hair out by the roots.  Fun!

Economically, this has to make sense.  In my assessment, I break even at three hours of time invested.  Allow one hour for getting to and from the salon and parking.  One hour for the appointment itself, and pay yourself an hour for the $60 saved.  If I can create similar results at home in three hours, I’m breaking even.  If not, I might as well go to the salon.  At least that’s my calculus.

Recipes are easy to find and basically come down to three ingredients:

2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of lemon juice

If you wanted to get fancy, you could use some kind of tea in place of the water – Chamomile comes to mind for its soothing properties.  Put everything in a heavy sauce pan and boil it.  The highest temperature that the mixture reaches is going to determine its consistency and usability when you’re done.  This is where your body hair removal intersects with candy-making.  The temperature range corresponds with a consistency that has been defined by candy making chefs.

Your next consideration is whether you want to use this stuff with the same technique as waxing – spread it on your skin, use a strip of cloth pressed over and tear off in the opposite direction of the hair growth.  Personally, I don’t see much benefit to that if tearing in the opposite direction of the hair growth is likely to cause more pain and the strips mean you’re tackling a bigger area at a single time.  If you are aiming for that, you probably have a wider range of ending consistency that will work.

The other general technique can be found on youtube.  You get a handful of the stuff, smear it against the skin against the grain of the hair, then pull it off in the direction that the hair grows.  You want to rip it off quickly, not drag it out slowly.  This is the method that I’m interested in, because if I’m going to be doing  anything around my bikini line, I want to be able to use as much or as little sugar paste as seems right.

Some consistencies are clearly ruled out:  Thread, Soft-Ball, and Hard Crack are all clearly out.  Thread means syrup and that’s not going to work so well.  I’ve been cooking this up without the benefit of a candy making thermometer, but I do not recommend this, because I can only guestimate what the stages are that I’ve tried and if you want a repeatable process, guestimation isn’t your friend.

The first time, I ended up with syrup.  No good.  So I reheated the batch and got to what I believe is probably the soft ball stage.  I did use this successfully, but with an improvised technique that requires longer hair.  Essentially, the sugar made it easier to grab and hold the hairs which I flicked off with a pinch and pull motion.  Effective, but not ideal.

I reheated the stuff a second time.  I think I got it to the firm ball stage…  again, no thermometer = guessing.  I got myself a big old glob of the stuff and went after the hair on my legs.  It worked.  Sort of.  The problem was with the consistency.  I could get a little bit on my finger and work it as a trial run on my arms and that worked ok, smearing against the hair growth and ripping in the direction of the hair.  On the legs for some reason, that sh!t stuck to my legs.  In trying to rip it out, I broke capillaries so now it looks like I’ve got hickies on my thighs.  They haven’t healed up yet, (God, I hope they heal) but I can imagine that doing this repeatedly will end up badly and could cause more permanent damage, like spider or varicose veins.  Don’t do this to yourself.  If you can’t flick the sugar off your skin cleanly, rinse it off.  I’m not a dermatologist or any other kind of expert, but this seems like common sense.

I gave up on that batch, bought a thermometer at Target, and decided to make a new batch last night.  Being the impatient girl that I am, realizing that my thermometer wasn’t going to cut it because it stopped measuring at 220 degrees and I needed to measure up to 265 degrees didn’t stop me.  Now I have a Soft Crack batch.  I’m thinking that’s not going to work so well.

Instead, I’m going to wait until my candy-making thermometer and I’m going to aim for 265 – 270 degrees, right between Hard-Ball and Soft-Crack.  I want the stuff malleable enough to grab the hairs, not so sticky that it grabs my skin.

Anyway, I thought I’d write this up because it might have been helpful to know all of this before I began rather than figuring it out – complete with broken capillaries – along the way.

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Honey, Sugar, Darlin’

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